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Can Cats Eat Oranges – Is Citrus Safe For Them?

Cats can develop a propensity for almost any food, including fruits like oranges. While your cat may show a high level of interest in the food you are eating, not all human food is safe for cats to consume. Fruits like oranges, in particular, can be dangerous for cats. So, can cats eat oranges?

Cats cannot eat oranges. Several parts of oranges are toxic to cats if consumed. With some exceptions, cats will avoid eating oranges and might be repelled by the smell of citrus.

So, if you ever thought of giving your cat an orange, don’t do it. They are not safe for them to eat and will cause more harm than good. In this article, we’ll break down why oranges are so harmful to cats, and what alternatives you may want to consider. 

Are Oranges Safe For Cats To Eat

Unfortunately, oranges are not a safe fruit for cats to eat. Oranges are toxic to cats thanks to the essential oils and psoralens found within the fruit and should never be consumed by a cat. It is not just oranges that are unsafe for cats to consume- it’s all citrus fruits. 

All citrus, including grapefruits, lemons, and limes, are harmful to cats because of their essential oils. The most concentrated location you can find the essential oils is in the peels of citrus fruit, which is by far the most harmful for your cat to ingest. 

What Happens If A Cat Eats An Orange

 If you come home to find your cat has eaten an orange peel or chewed on an orange, you will want to keep an eye out for some of the typical side effects for cats after eating this toxic fruit. Cats that have consumed an orange may start vomiting, having diarrhea, or even potential dermatitis. 

The actual orange peel and the plant material of oranges are the most dangerous parts for a cat to consume. Consumption of the orange peel may result in the most severe side effects for your cat. 

Do Cats Like Orange Peels

There are always exceptions to the rule, but most cats do not like orange peels. Cats do not have the same taste buds as humans do, and they are not drawn to sweeter flavors. The orange peel is toxic for cats; the citrus essential oils are likely to make your cat feel ill if they consume it. 

Moreover, cats are not drawn to fruit as a food group because it’s not part of their diet. Cats are obligate carnivores, which means their bodies are designed to eat meat and get all the nutrients they need from their meat food source. The digestive system of a cat is only built to digest meat, and they may struggle to digest any other food group properly. 

Can Orange Peels Hurt Cats

 The only way an orange peel can hurt your cat is if they choose to eat the peel. In that case, they may experience a stomachache, nausea, or diarrhea after eating. Additionally, your cat may have trouble passing a foreign food such as an orange peel through their digestive tract. 

Is the Smell of Oranges Bad For Cats

While the smell of oranges is not physically harmful to cats, sometimes cats are disgusted by citrus’ smell. This is usually not limited to oranges, but some cat repellant products use citrus smells because cats notoriously do not like the smell. 

If you are diffusing orange essential oils or other citrus essential oils in your home, you may notice that your cat seems irritated or avoids the room where you have the essential oil diffusing. This would probably indicate your cat does have an aversion to the smell of citrus, but the scent is not harmful to them.

Can Cats Eat Mandarin Oranges

 Mandarin oranges are still part of the broader citrus family umbrella and should still never be consumed by cats. A typical cat will not eat a mandarin orange because it will smell the intense citrus essential oils and avoid it.   

Similar to other oranges, the outer peel, stem, and leaves are the most dangerous part of a mandarin orange for your cat to eat, as these elements are poisonous to cats. Do your best to ensure your cat does not ever consume a mandarin orange. 

Can Cats Drink Orange Juice

Your cat should never drink orange juice. However, it is unlikely your cat would ever try to drink orange juice, given the potent citrus odor wafting off from the juice. The scent of oranges naturally repels cats, and that smell would be very pronounced in a glass of orange juice. 

In addition to the smell, orange juice is very acidic, which is not suitable for cats. The high levels of acid are not something that a cat’s body can efficiently process. While humans greatly benefit from the Vitamin C and other nutrients found in orange juice, they are not valid for cats. 

Why Is Citrus Bad For Cats

Citrus as a whole is toxic for cats because of the essential oils and high levels of acid found in all citrus fruit. Citrus also contains many naturally occurring sugars, which is not a nutritional element that cats need in their diet. In addition to this, the nature of citrus foods with their thick outer shell and fleshy fibrous inside is very difficult for a cat’s digestive system to process.

Like many other instances in the animal kingdom, cats are repelled by the smell of citrus as a natural warning mechanism within their body. This biology goes back before domesticated cats. Often animals have a natural defense mechanism response to avoid foods that are bad for them as a way of biology trying to prevent them from getting sick.

Oranges are a pretty foreign food concept compared to what a cat should normally be eating, and any time your cat eats something foreign to their system, problems are likely to ensue. 

Cats are also intelligent creatures and will quickly learn to avoid any food that makes them feel ill. If your cat did try to eat an orange peel one day, they would likely have gastrointestinal problems and know that they should avoid anything that smells similarly moving forward. 

What Fruits Can Cats Eat

While many fruits and vegetables are dangerous for cats to eat, a few fruits are safe for your cat to consume. Your cat can safely eat strawberries, peaches, blueberries, pears, or watermelon in minimal quantities. It is unnecessary to include fresh fruit in your cat’s diet, so unless they show interest in fruit, there is no reason to introduce it to them. 

While cats typically show interest in human food, the fruit is probably not their favorite category. Your cat should be getting all the nutrients they need from their cat food, and they do not need to be fed fresh fruits.  

If you are looking for a healthy snack to give your cat, try giving them a small piece of cheese or fish. As a general rule, cats should only consume 10% of their calories from snacks, and the other 90% should be from their actual prescribed cat food. 

If you have a food-motivated cat, make sure to keep your fresh citrus somewhere your cat will not be able to access it. While it’s less likely your cat will be interested in eating an orange than a bite of tuna fish, it is still essential to be mindful of preventing your cat from having a harmful reaction. 

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